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U19 (Under Nineteen) - Chapter 1 Summary

+ posted by Kaoz in Manga News on Feb 14, 2017 10:26
U19, written by Mr. Yuuji Kimura, debuted in Weekly Shounen Jump #11.

The Circumstances

U19 takes place in Japan in the year 2036. After Japan's decline in the 2000s as a result of their lax education policies, the "Grown-ups Party" took control of the country and reformed the system. The upside: even adults previous labeled as "worthless" could find a secure job and place to live. The downside: education means everything. According to their performance in school, children are assigned a rank from A (Excellent) to D (Worthless). The higher a person's rank, the more possibilities they have later on in live. But it does not stop there. Prime minister Yamato Shiki and the Grown-ups Party have now devised a new plan to further their segregation scheme.

The Cast

Our main cast are students of Tooyama High School. First up the protagonist, Eiji Kudou, a rebel who not only questions the Grown-ups Party's policies, but also has the guts to confront the adults. Next up are his classmates: Suzuki, who has his eyes set on a baseball career, the idol-obsessed Maehara, class representative Nanami, occultist Kuroiwa, and finally Eiji's childhood friend and love interest, Akari Tsukino. Representing the adults are Eiji's teacher, Mr. Tani, the children's parents as well as the Grown-ups Party itself of course. And then there are rumors about a mysterious organization, the Garage Kids, whose members supposedly possess superpowers called Libido and who stand up to the adults. Do they really exist or are they merely a legend?

The Conflict

Mr. Kimura has set up two main conflicts in this opening chapter. First, there is of course the overarching story of children vs adults - will the kids be able to form their own futures or will their fates be determined by nothing but the government's assessments? Secondly, there is Eiji's personal struggle. Just as he decides to confess to Akari and imagines that they will find happiness in living together for the rest of their lives, the Grown-ups Party discovers that Akari possesses superior genes and makes her transfer schools, separating the two. As a result, Eiji's motivation will presumably be to change society in order to reunite with his friend.

The Commentary

U19 opens with a punch (or, maybe more accurately, a shave) and loses no time in establishing both the world and its inhabitants. Mr. Kimura did a good job showing each party's motivations in an efficient manner and already teases some potential developments down the line. It remains to be seen how well the characters will be fleshed out later on and how the respective interests of children and adults are represented. Especially the latter could make or break this series in my eyes since right now the appeal of the Grown-ups Party as antagonists seems to be that they genuinely believe in their system and it actually works on a certain level. But should these legitimate motivations be replaced later on, the plot as a whole might take a hit. Nevertheless, we are off to a promising start and if the premise sounds interesting to you, you would do well to keep an eye on the series.

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